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9 Ways to Get Rid of Dark Circles

A good concealer is just a small part of the equation.

9 Ways to Get Rid of Dark Circles

By Erin Mayer and April Franzino, Good Housekeeping

Let's get the bad news out of the way — there is no miracle cure to get rid of dark under eye circles, and especially not the "miracle cures" like coconut oil, cucumber slices, ice cubes, cold compresses, or essential oils. Not even sleeping on extra pillows will nix dark circles.

"Even the most expensive eye creams and procedures can't completely eliminate them," says Paula Begoun, founder of the skin care line Paula's Choice. The good news: You can minimize their appearance, both with strategic skincare and makeup.

Here, scientists from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab, top dermatologists, and makeup artists share their best advice about minimizing, covering up, and preventing dark under eye circles both instantly and long-term.



1. 

Determine the underlying cause

For the best plan of action, you first have to understand what's causing your dark circles. One culprit is age. If your under eye circles are bluish, it's likely due to blood vessels peeking through thinning skin. "Since skin becomes more translucent with age, blood vessels appear more prominent," explains Heidi Waldorf, M.D., a New York City dermatologist.

If your circles are brownish, it could be due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, doctor-speak for clusters of brown pigment that collect underneath the eyes due to heredity, chronic rubbing (often because of allergies or bothersome contact lenses), or sun damage.

"Lack of sleep, an allergic reaction, or the consumption of salty foods can also be factors that exacerbate dark circles," says GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. Lastly, "genetics can play a major role," adds Begoun. "Some people are just born having a predisposition to dark circles."



2. 

Prioritize sun protection

As with many skin issues, the solution starts with SPF. "Damage from years of unprotected sun exposure leads to excess pigmentation on the skin underneath the eyes," Begoun says. "There is no question that using sunscreen around your eyes is vitally important."

The GH Beauty Lab recommends mineral sunscreen formulas for use around the eyes, as they tend to be gentler. Try Beauty Lab test winner Bare Republic Mineral SPF 30 Face Sunscreen Lotion, which scored perfectly for being gentle and nonirritating in our tests. Apply daily in the morning as a last step in your skincare routine.



3. 
Use brightening skincare ingredients
In addition to a good sunscreen, consider adding a serum to your regimen that contains "skin-brightening ingredients that improve natural vibrancy, such as niacinamide, bearberry extract, and vitamin C," Begoun says.

Good Housekeeping Seal stars Olay Luminous Miracle Boost Concentrate has a high level of niacinamide, and No7 Early Defence Glow Activating Serum is made with vitamin C. Smooth all over your face every morning before moisturizer and sunscreen for best (and brightest) results.

Be sure to avoid irritants in your skincare routine and look for anti-inflammatory properties instead. "Products loaded with soothing ingredients and that don't contain any kind of fragrance can make a huge difference, as irritation can make matters worse," Begoun says.



4. 

Try a hydrating eye cream

Daily use of any basic eye cream will temporarily plump skin so blood vessels are less visible, Dr. Waldorf says. Eye creams are a better choice for this purpose than regular face creams, because they tend to have a higher concentration of emollients for plumping and a thicker texture, which makes them adhere to the ever-mobile eye area. Wizemann recommends looking for a product containing hyaluronic acid or glycerin to moisturize around the eyes.

To improve the appearance of brown pigment, try an eye cream with the same skin-brightening actives as the above serums, such as GH Seal star Olay Brightening Eye Cream for Dark Circles which contains both niacinamide and vitamin C, plus light-reflecting pigments to instantly blur the look of dark shadows.

We also love Burt's Bees Renewal Smoothing Eye Cream, which earned high ratings for moisturization in Lab testing, and RoC Multi Correxion 5-in-1 Eye Cream which the Beauty Lab "rated best for minimizing dark circles and puffiness after a month of consistent use," Wizemann says.



5. 

Find the right under eye concealer

If you've got dark circles, you're likely slapping loads of concealer on in the morning. But it might be time to trade your go-to for a better model. Your best bet: a richly-pigmented cream formula.

"Creams have a stronger hold than liquids and won't creep into fine lines," says New York City makeup artist Shaun Thomas Gibson. Your concealer should be a shade lighter than your skin tone to counterbalance darkness. Try GH Beauty Lab test winners Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer, which rated highly for its ability to minimize the appearance of dark circles, or IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer, which earned a perfect score for coverage in testing, even of severe under eye discoloration.

Here's how to best camouflage dark circles: Start your routine by dabbing on eye cream and letting it soak in for a minute. Then apply foundation, including under your eyes — this will erase some of the darkness so you can use less concealer. Apply concealer using concealer brush for the most expert-looking coverage (but fingers work, too). Tap (don't spread) the cover-up from the inner corner of the eye to the midpoint beneath the iris, then feather it out, blending away any obvious demarcation lines. Dust a tiny bit of face powder over concealer to hold it in place.
 


6. 

Choose eye makeup wisely

Make sure you're using budge-proof eye makeup that won't transfer under eyes and make dark circles appear worse. "Lots of eye pencils are exceptionally greasy and move around the eye during the day," says Begoun. "Even if you don't have dark circles, you will look like you do."

Opt for a waterproof or smudge-resistant eyeliner and mascara, such as Beauty Lab test winners La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Mascara, Physicians Formula InstaReady Glide-On Gel Eyeliner, and Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill ProLiner, all of which stayed on without running in Lab evaluations.




7. 

Be careful when removing makeup

It's not just how you apply makeup that can affect dark circles, but how you remove it. "That constant tugging and pulling at the delicate skin around the eye increases sagging and, as a result, can look darker than the skin around it," says Begoun. "Pulling as little as possible around the eyes can make a big difference over time."

Consider using a cleansing oil like Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil or balm like Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm to remove mascara and eyeshadow with minimal tugging. Use warm water (not hot) to avoid irritation.


8. 

Rest up and hydrate properly

Getting 12 hours of sleep every night and eating a produce-only diet won't get rid of dark circles, but healthy sleep and eating habits can keep your skin in optimal shape in general.

Aim for at least seven hours rest per night and consume a diet rich in antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, plus hydrating beverages. "Proper hydration is directly related to skin cell regeneration, key to a glow," says GH Nutrition Director Jaclyn London, R.D. Aim for eight to 10 cups per day of unsweetened drinks like water (including sparkling or fruit-infused), tea (green tea is a great choice), and coffee.



9. 

Consider a doctor visit

To address serious dark circles, plus issues like sagging, permanent puffy eyes or under eye bags, or drooping, which can exacerbate circles by giving the area a hollow look, your best bet is to visit a dermatologist.

Experts agree that one of the best treatments to help minimize shadows is injections of hyaluronic acid, a clear gel-like substance that naturally occurs in skin. Known by brand names like Restylane and Juvéderm, the filler is injected directly into the hollows beneath the eyes to even them so they no longer appear as dark shadows.

Expect swelling, mild bruising, and tenderness for up to a week afterward (the bruising can be covered with concealer). Results will last three to six months or more at a cost of about $600+ per treatment, depending on area and number of injections needed.
9 Ways to Get Rid of Dark Circles



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